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Discover 7 Must-Visit Attractions in Estes Park, Colorado
Estes Park, nestled in the picturesque state of Colorado, is a highly sought-after travel destination that boasts abundant outdoor recreational options, natural splendor, and distinctive culture. A visit to this idyllic mountain town promises to be a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, appealing equally to families and couples in search of a memorable holiday experience. With its awe-inspiring natural vistas, Estes Park stands out as a fashionable choice for a vacation. This piece presents ten of the most stylish and enjoyable activities to partake in a while in Estes Park.
Explore Rocky Mountain, National Park
Nestled within a vast expanse of 415 square miles (265,807 acres) lies the Rocky Mountain National Park, home to an awe-inspiring range of mountainous landscapes. Whether one seeks to revel in the meadows of the montane living zone, bask in the glimmering waters of alpine lakes, or scale towering mountain summits, there is no shortage of discovery to be had. With over 300 miles of hiking trails, visitors have many opportunities to observe wildlife along their path.
Notably, the park’s network of trails caters to individuals of all abilities, from simple and paved walkways to challenging mountain trails designed for experienced hikers and off-trail options for wilderness exploration. For the adventurous backpacker, over 100 authorized wilderness camping spots can be accessed via routes, including a 45-mile loop of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail that commences from the Bear Lake or Grand Lake trailheads. It is worth noting that as weather conditions render many trails unsafe at other times of the year, most courses are only accessible during the summer season.
Furthermore, as our llamas and other pack animals, horseback riding is permitted on most routes. In essence, the Rocky Mountain National Park boasts an abundance of natural wonders to explore, and its varied offerings promise an unforgettable experience for all who visit.
Visit The Estes Park Aerial Tramway
Experience Estes Park from a unique vantage point without a strenuous hike. The Estes Park Aerial Tram offers a fast and exhilarating ride to the top of Prospect Mountain, providing a bird’s eye view of the surrounding treetops. This European-style cable car, designed by Robert Heron, is one of the few operating in the United States and runs daily from late May to early September.
The tramway spans a distance between the top and bottom stations using wires, without towers needing to hold the cables. Since 1955, over 3 million visitors have enjoyed this attraction, taking their time to take in the awe-inspiring views, capture them in photographs, and even embark on family-friendly hikes or exchange wedding vows.
The tramway operates mainly from Memorial Day to Labor Day, allowing visitors to climb Prospect Mountain and behold the magnificent vistas of Estes Park and the Rocky Mountains National Park. Most guests can experience a smooth ride for a fair, round-trip ticket price on the “free span” aerial tramway.
The ascent to the summit takes approximately five minutes, and visitors can always return to the bottom station at their own pace. The top station offers restrooms, a coffee shop, and a gift/souvenir shop for visitors. The upper terminal is also surrounded by a few short trails. Visitors may encounter some local wildlife while taking in the breathtaking scenery.
Visit The Estes Park Museum
Estes Park, nestled at the base of Colorado’s famous Longs Peak, has been a popular tourist destination for generations. Its rich history dates back to the 1864 Rocky Mountain News coverage that brought it to the public’s attention. It continues to attract millions of visitors each year.
The unique history of Estes Park, shaped by Native American tribes, homesteaders, business owners, and artists, sets it apart from other destinations in Colorado. Since the establishment of Rocky Mountain National Park in 1915, the town has been visited by numerous famous individuals, including Eleanor Hondius and F.O. Stanley.
Despite facing natural disasters such as floods and fires, the community in Estes Park remains solid and tight-knit. Visitors often describe the location as “paradise,” The Estes Park Museum offers a chance to explore and engage with the exhibits and interactive displays that showcase the town’s enduring appeal.
Admission to the museum is free, and we encourage travelers to discover the charm of Estes Park for themselves.
When venturing to the picturesque region of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, one can partake in various water activities due to the abundance of streams and lakes. However, one sport that stands out in popularity is fly fishing.
For those new to the sport, fear not, as numerous guides and trips are available to assist in exploring the waters and catching fish. The Estes Park Mountain Shop, Scot’s Sporting Goods Guided Fly Fishing Trips, Kirks Flyshop Guided Fly Fishing, Trout Haven Fishing Pond, Lake Estes Marina, Store, and Pavilion are among the well-known establishments for fishing in Estes Park.
Take A Horseback Riding Tour
Welcome to cowboy country, where it’s time to saddle up! Several horseback riding outfitters in the valley offer guided rides ranging from one hour to eight hours and even overnight excursions. Some even provide breakfast or steak supper rides, while others offer fishing trips to far-off lakes and streams. You can even take a ride back to an old farm! Everyone is welcome, regardless of age or skill level. The outfitters will pair you with the right horse for your abilities. However, please bring your own horse if you have one. There are plenty of trails to explore, including those in Hermit Park Open Space.
The sturdy mountain horses will take you through the well-trodden pathways of the Roosevelt National Forest, private property, and up into the mountains, with some even venturing into Rocky Mountain National Park. Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife, such as deer, elk, and coyotes. Be sure to take in the awe-inspiring natural formations found in these wilderness areas. This is a chance not to be missed, to experience it all from the back of a horse.
Visit The Stanley Hotel
Located just five miles from the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado, The Stanley Hotel is a splendid 140-room Colonial Revival establishment. It was built by Freelan Oscar Stanley, co-founder of the Stanley Motor Carriage Company, and was completed on July 4, 1909. Initially serving as a health retreat for those with pulmonary tuberculosis and a holiday destination for wealthy Easterners, the hotel and nearby buildings are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Stanley Hotel boasts stunning Lake Estes, the Rockies, and Longs Peak views. Today, it offers a range of amenities, including a restaurant, spa, and bed and breakfast accommodations.
Beyond its historical significance and natural beauty, the Stanley Hotel has a place in popular culture. Although the famous horror film “The Shining” was not filmed on site, the hotel inspired author Stephen King’s novel. King famously spent one snowy winter night at the hotel, which later became the basis for his iconic story. Additionally, the popular comedy film “Dumb and Dumber” was filmed at the hotel.
The Stanley has also gained a reputation for being haunted, likely due to its association with “The Shining.” Visitors can take a night tour to learn about the hotel’s paranormal activity and local legends surrounding the spirits that are said to reside there. Alternatively, a daytime tour is available for those who prefer to delve into the hotel’s fascinating history and the famous people who have visited over the years.
Shop At The Local Farmers Market
Indulge in an exquisite exploration of the Estes Park Visitor Center Parking Lot, where many white tents offer an array of goods sourced locally from the Rockies. Against the stunning backdrop of downtown Estes Park and its snow-capped peaks, visitors can peruse through a variety of tempting items, ranging from fresh vegetables procured from Colorado farms to handcrafted soaps, baskets, honey, spices, pastries, flowers, and locally raised cattle and eggs, as well as a delectable selection of locally roasted coffee.
The Estes Park Farmer’s Market, which takes place every Thursday from June to September between 8 am and 1 pm, is hosted in the Estes Park Visitor Center parking lot. Here, customers can browse an exceptional collection of goods, all manufactured and cultivated within Colorado. It is advisable to carry cash, as some vendors only accept cash while others accept credit cards. Conveniently located near the crossroads of routes 34 and 36, the Estes Park Visitor Center parking structure offers the finest parking options for visitors.
After an enriching visit to the market, it is recommended that purchases be stored in an excellent location before embarking on a leisurely stroll along Elkhorn Avenue, where visitors can enjoy a delightful breakfast or lunch.
As a seasoned travel authority, Estes Park is an ideal destination for families and couples seeking an unparalleled and memorable holiday experience. Estes Park is among the finest locations to spend your vacation with its awe-inspiring natural splendor, deep-rooted cultural heritage, and various outdoor pursuits. Estes Park caters to all preferences, whether you seek a restful respite or a thrilling escapade. Therefore, do not hesitate to prepare your luggage and journey to Estes Park for a vacation that will remain etched in your memory forever!